Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche


Want to Uber? No Smartphone No Problem

Uber just became far more convenient than ever; it is now possible to use the ubiquitous ride-hailing app without a smartphone.

A new service called Uber Central lets you hail an Uber for seniors, the mentally disabled or anybody else who lacks a smartphone, The Los Angeles Times reported. Central is an app that is added to Uber, it lets you book rides for persons with another pickup address such as your parents.

Uber Central customers are given an address book that lets people book rides for a specific group of persons. That enables family members, volunteers and others to create a list of riders that can use their Uber. The rider calls the Uber user; who books the ride, and pays for it with his or her credit card.

Among other things that let churches; and nonprofit organizations that work with senior citizens, provide transportation. It would also be a godsend for working people with families; who are trying to help aging relatives, that don’t drive stay in their homes. For example your dad can use Uber to go to his doctor’s appointments and you will not have to try and teach how to use a smartphone.

This Uber Service actually Predates Uber

Interestingly enough the idea for Uber Central, actually predates Uber itself.

Back in 2007; two years before Uber Taxi started, Anne and Bob Carr tried to create a ridesharing app for seniors that cannot drive. The technology was not ready yet; so the Carrs put the idea on ice until 2014, when they heard about Uber.

Then in 2014 they discovered Uber; and organized a nonprofit called Common Courtesy Inc., Bloomberg Businessweek reported. In a short time Bob Carr was using five smartphones; with five different Uber accounts, to book rides for a group of seniors.

When Uber discovered what the cars were doing it dispatched five engineers to Atlanta to study the Carrs’ service. Those studies formed the basis for Uber Central – which might become a major profit center for the app.

Making a Profit by Making the Roads Safer

There will be 70 million Americans over 65 in 2030 and around 10.5 million of them will lack drivers’ licenses, AAA estimated. Many of those people will be physically incapable of driving; AAA estimated that 80% of people in their 70s suffer from arthritis, and other kinds of inflammation that can interfere with driving.

Uber Central might save lives; and lower your car-insurance premiums, in the process. In 2014 5,079 seniors were killed and 221,000 injured in traffic accidents in the United States, according to AAA. Around 58% of those people were driving themselves.

If something like Uber Central can get just 10% of senior drivers off the road; it might save several hundred lives and prevent tens of thousands of injuries a year. That would cut insurance rates because medical expenses from injuries are the biggest cost to insurers.

Nor is it just seniors Uber Central can help; there’s the visually impaired, teenagers, drinkers and persons whose licenses are revoked or suspended by the courts. An interestingly possibility would be a court-mandated Uber Central for people with suspended or revoked driver’s licenses. They would still be able to get to work and the grocery store without a license, even if they did not live near a bus stop.

It looks as if Uber might actually do some good. This makes the supposed $70 billion valuation for Uber less of a fantasy than some of us thought.